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What is Aromatherapy?
"Aromatherapy is the holistic therapeutic application of genuine and authentic plant-derived essential oils for enhancing the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health of the individual." (School of Aromatic Studies)
What does this mean? Aromatherapy is a complementary and holistic therapy incorporating pure, unadulterated high quality essential oils into daily life for a multitude of self-care and general health and wellness applications. Aromatherapy can be used to improve moods, to relieve stress, to promote healthy sleep patterns, for skin care, and to support every bodily system.
How does aromatherapy work? There are three schools or methods of aromatherapy philosophy and application. The Germans focus on the use of essential oils through diffusion and inhalation. The British focus on dermal applications. The French incorporate both inhalation and dermal application as well as the ingestion of essential oils.
What are essential OIls?
Essential oils are organic compounds extracted from plants that have therapeutic properties. They can be found in the plant’s flower, stem, leaves, roots, grass, bark, resin, or fruit. The chemistry is extremely complex and may consist of hundreds of different and unique chemical compounds that influence the therapeutic benefits of each oil or blend.
Essential oils are not the same as vegetable oils. They are obtained from the fatty parts of a plant like the nuts, seeds or kernels, and are greasy. In the essential oils world, we refer to these oils as carrier oils since they are often used to dilute the potency of therapeutic grade essential oils when applying to your skin. Essential oils are lipophilic meaning they disperse through fatty oils, but not water without a proper dispersant. High quality, pure, unadulterated essential oils do the following:
Reach every cell in your body within 20 minutes when applied topically.
Eliminate toxins in your body - regenerate DNA - have the capability of passing the “blood-brain” barrier.
Work on emotions via the limbic system of your brain when inhaled.
Release emotional trauma, relax and clear the mind.
Transport nutrients to starving human cells -act as powerful antioxidants.
Increase atmospheric oxygen.
Remove toxins in the air.
Increase ozone and negative ions in the area which inhibit bacterial growth.
Essential oils can be diffused, inhaled, applied topically, incorporated into massage, taken internally to inspire a positive emotional state, enhance your physical wellness, purify your home, refine your skin and create deep spiritual awareness.
Three methods of use are topically, aromatically, and internally. Always remember to check your labels for dilution instructions and consult the brands website for more detailed instructions -- some oils can be dermal irritants or sensitizers, photosensitive, and may not be suitable for internal use.
The importance of using high quality essential oils
Essential oils have grown in popularity and can be found anywhere these days, but what you should know is that most essential oils on the retail market are, even though they may be labelled as “pure”, often filled with synthetics, chemical extenders, and other additives. In the United States, there is no official rating system for essential oils. The closest we get is an FDA requirement that in order to label a bottle of essential oils "pure" or "therapeutic grade," the contents of that bottle must contain at least 5% essential oil!
How can we tell if an essential oil is of a high quality? If you are buying a bottle of Rose oil for $20, it probably does not carry a single drop of pure rose oil because it takes 22 pounds of rose petals to make one 5ml bottle of oil, which is why it is one of the most expensive oils on the market.
All oils in the world fall into the following classifications:
The highest quality oils are therapeutic, made from organically grown plants and distilled at low temperatures.
The lesser quality oils may contain synthetics, pesticides, fertilizers, chemical extenders, or even carrier oils.
Low quality oils are perfume oils that often contain adulterated chemicals. They usually use solvents, for example, hexane, to gain a higher yield of oil per harvest. Solvents can be cancerous, and are in many store-bought oils. They may also be diluted 80-95% with alcohol.
The lowest quality oils are aromatic only and is usually a byproduct of distillation. This is not to be confused with hydrosols or floral essences, which do have therapeutic benefits.
The highest quality is the only true pure oil. The lowest quality would be like taking a glass of orange juice an diluting it 95% before you drank it! It would not have the full benefits of orange juice. That's why you want high quality, pure, unadulterated essential oils. Before you purchase, check to see if the company grows their own plants, owns their fields, and controls the entire production from the farm to the final products. Pesticides, pollution, previously farmed land - all of it can affect the quality of an oil. Why would you go the extra step of using an oil to get away from a chemical - and then use an oil laden with chemicals?
Why do oil Companies Sell cheap oils? The simple answer is to save money and make the maximum profit. If you spray your crop with pesticides, you have more crop to distill. If you use a chemical solvent to extract the oil, you pull more out. If you dilute it with a cheaper oil or a carrier oil, you stretch the oil you have distilled. In the end you pay for what you get.
How oils are made
Typically most essential oils, save for citrus oils, are steam distilled. Citrus oils can be steam distilled, but usually are extracted through expression of the peels.
The process of distillation is done by:
Preparing the plant material for distillation. For instance an orange tree produces, the orange fruit which makes Orange oil, orange blossoms which make Neroli oil, and orange tree leaves that makes Petitgrain oil. Each of those morphological structures will need to be prepared in different ways.
At the base, you will have a heat source, which is needed for steam distillation.
The plant material will be placed with water above the heat source.
The steam pulls the essential oils from the plant material in a collection tank
This connects to the steam outlet and goes through a condenser to separate the oils from the water.
From which you get the essential oil and the hydrosol.
It takes a great deal of work to produce a tiny amount of essential oil.
60,000 rose blossoms provide 1 oz of rose oil
Lavender is abundant-220 pounds will provide 7 pounds of oil.
Jasmine flowers must be picked by hand before the sun becomes hot on the very first day they open, thus making it one of the most expensive oils in the world! It takes 8 million hand-picked blossoms to produce 2.2 pounds of oil
A Sandalwood tree must be 30 years old and 30 feet tall before it can be cut down for distillation.
A little oil goes a long way. Most oils are $10 to $30 a bottle. a 5ml bottle contains about 90 drops, and a 15ml bottle contains about 250 drops.
Essential oils safety
Essential oil safety is important and the content of this website is intended to be used with high quality, pure, unadulterated essential oils. Essential oil bottles should include their important information on the labels and usually have complex profiles on their company's website. If the label does not contain the pertinent that you are looking for, please visit the website for more information.
Dermal irritants produces immediate irritation on the skin. This may present as blotching or redness and may be painful. Avoid application of known dermal irritant essential oils on inflammatory and allergic skin conditions, on open or damaged skin, undiluted application; always dilute known dermal irritants with a carrier oil, and for sensitive skin, perform a skin patch test.
Dermal Sensitization is the most common skin reaction to essential oils is sensitization, or allergic contact dermatitis. On light-colored skin, it presents as a bright red rash, and on darker skin it appears as a dark blush. There are two types of dermal sensitization - immediate hypersensitivity and delayed hypersensitivity (which happens upon subsequent use of the same oil.)
Mucous membrane irritants will produce a heating or drying effect on the mucous membranes of the mouth, eyes, nose, and reproductive organs.
Photosensitivity: Certain essential oils especially citrus oils are photosensitive. This means they absorb sunlight or radiant energy more intensely than your skin naturally would. This is a reaction to a substance applied to the skin that occurs only in the presence of UV light -- sunlight or artificial lights.
Allergies: If you know you are allergic to a certain plant or oil, it probably isn’t a wise decision to use that oil. Now this doesn’t necessarily hold true for everyone and every oil. Due to the distillation process, proteins (what usually causes an allergic reaction) are generally absent from the essential oil minimizing the chance of allergic reactions. The essential oil of a plant may come from a different portion than what triggers an allergic reaction for a specific individual. For example, lemon oil is obtained from the rind and not the flesh of the fruit. Some people may be allergic to lemon no matter what, but others may have no reaction to the essential oil because it comes from a different part of the plant. If you know you have an allergy to a certain plant but are wanting to try the essential oil, consult with your doctor before testing a small amount on a non sensitive part of your body. **Be aware that some oils and blends contain nut oils. You can always contact the essential oil company directly for an up-to-date ingredients list of any product.
Medical conditions: It is always advised to consult a medical professional before starting any essential oils routine, especially if you have been diagnosed with a medical condition, are taking any prescription medications, or have concerns about your health. The information provided on our site is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or diagnose any medical condition. Treat essential oils with the care and respect they deserve and exercise your best judgment when using them for a safe, effective experience!
Medications Contraindications: Most of the time, essential oils are perfectly safe to use even if you are taking another medication. However, there are some instances in which essential oils like cinnamon bark may interfere with diabetes medication. If you are taking any prescription medications, it is strongly recommended to consult your healthcare provider prior to the use of any essential oils to check for possible contraindications.
Children: Most essential oils are perfectly safe to use with children as long as they are diluted appropriately. You do want to make sure that your essential oils stay out of children’s reach. Some oils like wintergreen can be dangerous when ingested. If you suspect that your child has ingested an essential oil, call Poison Control immediately.
Citrus Oils: It is important to take some extra precautions when using citrus oils because of their ability to dissolve certain plastics. This is great if you want to get a sticky label off of a glass jar, but not so great if the lemon oil you put in your water dissolves your cup! The general rule is that citrus oils should only be used in glass or stainless steel containers.
Pregnancy: Many essential oils are completely safe to use while pregnant and can provide much needed relief for a variety of pregnancy symptoms. There are some oils that should be avoided during pregnancy. Always check your labels or the companies website if you are not sure about using an oil.
Storing your oils: Essential oils have various expiration dates and some may need to be refrigerated, but you do need to take care when storing them. The bottles are a dark, amber color which keeps light from reaching the oils. Even though the bottles are dark, you’ll still want to store your oils in a cool environment away from direct sunlight to preserve the therapeutic properties.
All information, content and product descriptions contained within this website and for any events are for reference purposes and are not intended to substitute advice given by a pharmacist, physician or other licensed health care professional. We do not advise you use the information contained within this website, or any other site for treating a health problem or disease or to make a self diagnosis, without talking to your doctor. Actual product packaging and materials may contain different information than shown on this website. Contact your health care provider immediately if you suspect that you have a medical problem. Information and statements regarding our products have not been evaluated by the FDA.
We are not medical professionals and this website is not in any way meant to take the place of medical advice. It is for educational purposes based off opinions and facts that we have found to be true in our own experience and with research we have gathered from books and online. We are not diagnosing, treating, or prescribing. If you have any health conditions, are on any medications, are being seen by a medical professional for any reason, are elderly, pregnant, nursing, have babies or young children or animals please consult your physician or veterinarian as well.
Essential Oils History
The use of plant and aromatic medicine dates back thousands of years. Primitive humans used plant material to treat injuries and illnesses prior to the rise of the earliest civilizations. Written records of plant medicine date back 5000 years to the ancient Sumerians and Babylonians around 2000 BCE, as well as the Egyptians around 3000 BCE. Ancient India and China both have extensive use and practice of herbal and plant-based medicine and are still heavily in use today through the Ayurveda system and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans are partook in aromatic plants and extracts in everyday life and for medicinal purposes.
Aromatics were used during the Middle Ages for defense against the Bubonic Plague to ward off infection and other diseases. It wasn't until the 18th and 19th century that aromatics were used regularly and studied in depth to ascertain their medicinal properties. During this time doctors were beginning to use more plant-based medicine to treat their patients.
In modern times, the creation of aromatherapy as it is practiced today is credited to Rene-Maurice Gattefosse who came from a family of perfumers in France. In the early 20th century, he began working with his botanist/chemist brother pursuing further research on plant-based medicine. In 1910, Gattefosse was burned severely on his hands during an explosion in his lab. He began using Lavender on the wounds to help treat the burns and healing process, which worked quite amazingly well. The term “aromatherapie” was coined by Rene-Maurice Gattefosse in 1937 and he published a book of the same name, which contains his clinical research findings for application of essential oils for a variety of physiological ailments.
Marguerite Maury's work with essential oils led to the creation of holistic aromatherapy practice as we know it today. Together with her husband who was a doctor, explored healing therapies including: homeopathy, naturopathy, acupuncture, yoga, meditation, and others. She pioneered the dermal application of essential oils and their psychological and physiological benefits. She emphasized a holistic approach to treating the individual.
In the 1950s, Dr. Jean Valnet who was a traditional medical doctor began his research into essential oils and his focus was on the methods of application and the proper dosage levels needed to attain benefits without risking any side effects.
Aromatherapy as we know it today is due in large part to the foundational work of Gattefosse, Maury, and Valnet. From our ancient ancestors and modern innovators, aromatherapy today provides a hands-on-approach to applying essential oils for a variety of physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual reasons.